Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend about our families. After learning I was the youngest in my family, he proceeded to ask me if I acted like a youngest child. Having gotten that question quite a bit before, my typical response is a sarcastic “if you mean (insert compliments), then yes!”
Growing up the youngest in my family of five has always come with it perks; I knew that from a young age. Beyond the typical “youngest children are the most spoiled” perk (which I am willing to argue), I think the biggest plus of being the youngest is the ability to learn from my older siblings.
My oldest brother, Victor, has always been a leader. Maybe due to birth order, maybe to crazy high intelligence, or maybe just because that is what he chooses to be. When I was younger, I remember telling him that I wasn’t a “science person” and he simply said that I can be good at anything I want to be and to not let that label stick with me. I can pinpoint that instance as influencing me to feel that I can be a “science person” if I want to be, and it has carried me to be a science major now.
When people first see Alex, the typical assumption is that he is tough and aggressive. However, knowing him, I can say for sure that he has a fierce loyalty for the people he cares about. Even from a young age, Alex always would share his secret stash of candy, drive my friends and I, and (although sometimes begrudgingly) help out with schoolwork, specifically physics. He’s taught me about discipline as he maintains a strict workout regime but is also usually looking forward to the next good meal. Beyond Alex’s tough appearance, it’s clear he values his family and friends.
Nora is someone I always followed in fashion trends, interests, and TV shows. In fact, as kids we would have drawing contests and would vote on who won, and every time I would vote for her, even with my own drawing in the running. Nora’s biggest impact on me is her way of living. First in our family to study abroad, she moved to California after college, and still makes sure to balance her life with work and enjoyment. School-wise she is brilliant, but perhaps even more so in the way Nora works “smarter, not harder.”
Lily is fierce in all she does and is the epitome of empowerment and strength. Some days Lily and I would be literally fighting and within an hour we’d be laughing at a movie together. She is not afraid to speak her mind, and not willing to back down from a challenge. Lily has her future in her hands and will do with it as she pleases.
Looking back at the conversation about whether or not I act like a youngest child, I can proudly say I do. But I think the essence of “acting like the youngest child” isn’t so much that we are different from our siblings, rather we are just a culmination of the amazing qualities our siblings have that shape us. Not to say youngest kids don’t have their own personalities, obviously. But I know I wouldn’t be who I am without the collaboration of the leadership, loyalty, balance, and empowerment of my siblings, and for that I am forever grateful.